Police: suspect package no bomb

Investigation into backpack under fuel tank continues

Posted: Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hours after destroying a suspicious backpack with a water cannon, Juneau Police determined that its contents were not a bomb.

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Juneau Police said an investigation continues into the package found Thursday under a 6,000-gallon diesel fuel tank situated between two state office buildings.

"Early Friday morning we determined the backpack was not a bomb," said Cindee Brown-Mills, Juneau Police spokeswoman.

Citing the ongoing investigation, police declined to describe the contents of the backpack.

On Thursday, a portable X-ray deployed by the Juneau Police showed the bag contained wires and a cylindrical object. It was stuffed behind a tank. Unable to rule out that it was not a bomb, police decided to treat the pack as a possible explosive device.

Police would not say if they believe the backpack was left as a hoax, or simply as a mistake.

The bag contained no form of identification, and police said they had no suspects as of Friday evening.

Concerned over the possibility of an explosion, authorities evacuated the State Office Building Annex while police and emergency officials worked to remove the backpack. The operation disrupted several blocks downtown for over seven hours Thursday.

"People were allowed to leave the area, but only authorized personnel were allowed to return," said Sgt. David Campbell, Juneau Police spokesman.

Shortly after 6:30 p.m., the Juneau bomb squad placed the pack into the unit's bomb disposal trailer for transport to an undisclosed location.

In that safe location, police used a water cannon to destroy the backpack and anything it contained.

"It blew it apart," Brown-Mills said. The cannon tears bombs apart and shorts out any electrical components, she added.

The Juneau bomb squad experienced some problems with a robot designed to handle explosive devices. The bomb squad intended the robot to place the pack into the bomb trailer. After the malfunction, an officer in body armor placed the backpack in the containment trailer.

"A bucket handle gave way," Brown-Mills said. "Otherwise it went very well."

• Greg Skinner can be reached at greg.skinner@juneauempire.com.

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